The Application of Montessori's Pedagogical Principles to the Secondary Choral Classroom

May 17, 2011 / By: Caroline Miesle

This study was an investigation of possible strategies for the application of Montessori’s pedagogical principles to the secondary choral rehearsal.  Specific questions addressed include the impact of prior musical knowledge and strategies for incorporating the Three Period Lesson into the rehearsal.  The sub-questions sought to identify constructivist theorists’ approaches for independent musicianship that may complement Montessori’s educational theories and pedagogical principles.  The final sub-question addresses and includes an analysis of the teaching strategies employed by another Montessori choral director.

A brief description of the history and pedagogical philosophy of Maria Montessori were outlined, and a working definition of independent musicianship is established.  Strategies for song analysis and rehearsal planning were also examined for relevance to the Montessori teaching method.

Lessons and song analyses from the researcher’s classroom at Great River School provided examples of a possible teaching method for the use of Montessori education in the choral rehearsal.  A measure of comparison was established through a rehearsal observation and a written interview with the choir director at Lake Country School, an internationally recognized adolescent Montessori program.         

The results of this study suggest that increasing students’ musical independence and providing opportunities for student leadership embrace and promote Montessori’s pedagogical principles and help to create a prepared environment in the choral classroom.  Students’ prior knowledge must be used to establish a baseline for musicianship.  Several constructivist theories appear to support the goals of Montessori adolescent education, particularly those that increase independent musicianship.  The results also indicated that the Three Period Lesson can be applied to the choral setting, but must be adapted to suit a more traditional rehearsal structure.  Some common teaching strategies were identified between the two research sites, but a significantly smaller amount of rehearsal time at Lake Country School prevented widespread opportunities for student leadership.  Further, in-depth comparative analysis of existing programs may provide additional insights into this work.